UK : At the end of September, UKHSA published a “rapid mapping review” which identifies and categorises evidence on the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions (“NPIs”) to reduce covid-19 transmission.
However, as Professor Carl Heneghan and Dr. Tom Jefferson noted, UKHSA did not extract nor appraise the evidence as it claimed it did not have the resources. Whether a lack of “resources” means a lack of cash or expertise or both is not clear.
So, the two researchers undertook to review the 100 models forming the backbone of the UKHSA’s mapping review. “As we feel sorry for the poor old UKHSA, we have done the appraisal for it,” they wrote.
Now Prof. Heneghan and Dr. Jefferson follow up on their review by looking at how it is that UKHSA claims it does not have the “resources” to appraise the evidence for themselves.
Should we start a collection for the UKHSA? Let’s pass the plate around
Some of you will recall that the UK Health Security Agency (“UKHSA”) claimed not to have the resources to carry out a systematic appraisal of the 100 models forming the backbone of the UKHSA’s mapping review called ‘Effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions to reduce transmission of Covid-19 in the UK’.
We have documented their dreadful reviews that include the wrong type of evidence to address the question but still made their way to Parliament as evidence of effectiveness.
So, as we were swimming in cash, lounging by the pool in our villas in the Caribbean, we did the job for them.
We found that the 100 models were not science, but a mass of assumptions and unverifiable statements which reflected the publication frenzy that went off the boil as soon as attention moved away from Covid.
According to Mr. Hancock, when mask mandates were introduced (to please Ms. Sturgeon), there was no strong evidence that they made any difference to the transmission of any viral respiratory agent. This still holds today.
So, the 100 models were retrofitted evidence to try and justify a national policy based on the distortion of the precautionary principle.
We think it likely that a little bit of cash will be found for friends of the UKHSA to find that: “Well, maybe, if we do this or that analysis a bit of an effect will be found”.
But do the UKHSA have a few pennies after all to look at the evidence behind a national policy that muzzled most Britons for nigh on two years? Here is a summary of the UKHSA funding for 2022-23:
Maybe a few pennies could come from the over £2 billion of ring-fenced covid funding?
Our previous work showed we are no strangers to wasting money: “Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for influenza that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said. By 2014, The UK had spent £473m on Tamiflu, which is stockpiled by governments globally to prepare for the dreaded ‘F’ pandemic.”
However, we find it strange that there is such a ring-fenced sum for a pathogen which is now endemic, but maybe the UKHSA knows something we do not.
With such a huge drain on the exchequer and the input provided for evidence-free policies, is everything all right then? Not according to the auditor (page 96 of the report):
1.25 DHSC and UKHSA should work with HM Treasury to agree and implement an action plan to get UKHSA on track to deliver auditable financial statements for 2022-23. I understand that work on an action plan has begun. Resolution of the issues, for example, those arising from the implementation of the new ERP system, will require additional investment and support for UKHSA’s finance team to ensure they are properly equipped to succeed with this challenge.
1.24 The audit work that I have performed has identified significant shortcomings in financial control and governance which are pervasive to UKHSA’s financial statements. The uncertainties that I have encountered mean that I am not able to report quantifiable adjustments which UKHSA could make to correct the financial statements.
UKHSA Annual Report and Accounts 2021/22, pgs. 95 and 96
More money is needed then. To fund what? More models?
The report may be interesting if somewhat long at 127 pages. There is a helpful introduction by the Chair of UKHSA, Mr. Peters. Let’s hope he knows a little more about public health than his predecessor at Public Health England, Mr. Selbie, who described his knowledge at the Covid Inquiry as enough to fill the back of a postage stamp. Second-class stamp, that is.
BY RHODA WILSON
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